(BlackDoctor.org) — In the 21st century, more than 400,000 Americans still die each year from illnesses related to cigarettes. Taking into account the enormous amount of publicity given to the extremely harmful effects of cigarette smoking, Americans of all races, classes and backgrounds still light up each day.
According to the American Heart Association, cigarette smoking is “the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States”, and approximately one out of every two smokers die of smoking-related illnesses.
Nasty Ingredients Abound
It’s no secret that cigarettes contain chemicals, additives and other ingredients that are dangerous, addictive, unhealthy, or clearly carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Of course, nicotine is the addictive ingredient in cigarettes that keeps you coming back for more, and when combined with the carbon monoxide also found in cigarettes, nicotine contributes to the decrease in blood circulation to the hands and feet that most smokers experience.
Carbon monoxide (which is also found in car exhaust, by the way) not only impacts circulation, but it also damages the heart, lungs and other organs by denying them the essential oxygen they need.
Tar is made up of a variety of chemicals, and one cigarette can contain from less than 7mg to more than 22 mg of tar. Tar stains teeth, hands and clothing, causes emphysema, lung cancer, bronchitis, impotence, osteoporosis, gum disease, tooth loss, and severely damages the cilia in the lungs (tiny hairs that act as filters and remove toxins).
Cigarettes and Cardiovascular Disease
In terms of cardiovascular disease, smoking increases blood pressure, decreases the ability to tolerate exertion or exercise, decreases lung capacity and elasticity, and makes the smoker more susceptible to dangerous blood clots. Smoking also decreases the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, thus further exacerbating the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular complications.
Cigarettes and Cancer
More than 40 carcinogenic ingredients have been identified in cigarettes sold in the United States, and those who smoke are much more likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not.
Both men and women who smoke are likely to develop cancers of the esophagus, lungs, bladder, tongue, nose, anus, throat, mouth and salivary glands, and men who smoke also have a much higher risk of cancer of the penis.
The connection between cigarette smoking and cancer is scientifically undeniable (despite the deceptively glossy and glamorous arguments made by many tobacco companies).